Maker culture soon to be permanent fixture in Macon

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Maker culture soon to be permanent fixture in Macon

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Conner Wood / Cluster Staff

Conner Wood / Cluster Staff

All that innovation needs is a spark of creativity, a spark of entrepreneurial spirit.

SparkMacon LLC hopes to create that exact environment with its new “maker space,” a physical place where artisans, crafters and engineers can use the provided equipment and resources to share ideas, network with other members and maybe even build a business along the way.

“Businesses and companies that stay in business and that stay successful are the businesses who innovate [by finding] new ideas and new ways of doing things,” said Andrew Eck, a Mercer University student who co-owns Georgia Pallet and resides on the board for SparkMacon. “I think [the innovation] is going to permeate from the makers out into the city.”

The organization, which is located on the second floor of 557 Cherry St., will host a First Friday Open Make Night and Open House on Nov. 7. The grand opening will be on Dec. 5.

For four hours, people will have the opportunity to explore the 3,100-square-foot room and make anything with the tools on site. Prizes will be awarded.

SparkMacon plans to host an event every First Friday from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Eck also said there are plans for a hackathon, seminars and maybe even a TEDx Talk: “The possibilities are endless.”

To be able to access the equipment and the space available at SparkMacon on a regular basis, people will have to pay a fee similar to a gym membership. The cost for an individual membership is $40 per month, but a board member has to be there to supervise. A student under the age of 18 may purchase a membership for $20 with parental consent.

It is $80 per month to have 24/7 key access to the space due to the extra liability, but the board has speculated ways to give out as many keys as possible to members.

“What’s going to happen, I don’t know, whether we are going to invent the next vacuum cleaner or pallet furniture. It’s going to be random, but it’s going to be new,” Eck said about the potential for SparkMacon.

The Middle Georgia Regional Commission received a grant for $54,000 to fund the tools and supplies that will fill the space under the stipulation that the board will crowdfund for the remainder of the operating budget.

“Powers combined to form SparkMacon,” Eck said.

The five-panel board of the nonprofit work as volunteers. It is made up of Rob Betzel, CEO of Infinity Network Solutions; Brent Lanford, deputy director at the Middle Georgia Regional Commission; Nadia Osman, director of revitalization and business initiatives at College Hill Alliance; and Michael Rosario, principle software engineer at Mercer Engineering Research Center. Eck was recently added as the fifth member of the board.

The crowdfund campaign brought in $11,130, which includes prepaid memberships and donations.

Forty people have already signed up to become members of Macon’s first maker space. Eck counts that as a major success before the organization has even officially opened its doors. He says that he is excited to meet these 40 people and to learn from them because, by definition, they are creative and possess entrepreneurial ways by investing in SparkMacon.

“When you get creative people together, get them talking and interacting, cool things can happen,” Eck said. “Once you start coming here, it will be contagious.”

For more information about SparkMacon, visit sparkmacon.com. Like them on FaceBook or follow them on Twitter @SparkMacon.

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